Raising funds and awareness with the return of the Silver Clef Awards

The Brief

The Silver Clef Awards are Nordoff Robbins’ key music industry fundraising event. With the charity’s funding severely affected by the pandemic, the return of the live award ceremony to London in 2022 for the first time since 2019 was an important milestone.

Barley worked closely with Nordoff Robbins, artists, management and stakeholders to ensure a stream of press pre awards, to generate interest in the major auction item during the awards – George Michael’s personal piano – and to share the amount raised by the event later that evening. We also ensured the smooth running of the photocall on the blue carpet and managed the media room throughout the day of the awards – including the media table.

Our aim was not only to generate interest through celebrity photography, but to ensure Nordoff Robbins’ key messaging was included in the media coverage through interviews and key quotes. We also wanted to raise the profile of the charity’s CEO, Sandra Schembri.

Insights and Approach

Communicating the power of music and Nordoff Robbins’ music therapy services was central to our strategy. We advised that George Michael’s piano auction should be made public through an online auction house, rather than a purely closed event, to generate more media interest. We worked with his estate and Nordoff Robbins to obtain images of George with the piano, as well as receiving his own Silver Clef in the 1980s. This led to an ITV London package featuring the piano and an interview with Nordoff Robbins’ CEO Sandra Schembri about the charity’s work, along with blanket regional coverage via PA and extensive articles in The Evening Standard and The Express.

For the award winners’ announcement, we drafted quotes for each winning artist which included key messaging around the importance of Nordoff Robbins’ work and worked closely with artist management to ensure attendance at the media room. Peter Gabriel, winner of the flagship Silver Clef award, spent time with media, along with Becky Hill, Tom Walker, London Grammar, Tems, Griff, Alexis Ffrench and Jools Holland. We secured an interview with Tom Walker on Good Morning Britain the day before the awards.

Our detailed pre-event planning and extensively briefed team ensured that the photocall, media room and media table went smoothly, and meant that photography of the stars appeared on all major UK and International newswires. All tabloid showbiz journalists attending covered the event, with The Daily Star devoting their entire two-page Saturday column to Nordoff Robbins and the Silver Clef Awards.

The Outcome

In July 2022, Barley secured 328 pieces of positive media coverage, with opportunities to see/hear of 5.5 billion. The event raised £750,000 for Nordoff Robbins to continue its vital music therapy services, including £200,000 for the auction of George Michael’s personal piano.

This was the first time that Barley Communications had run the media for the Silver Clef Awards on behalf of Nordoff Robbins. Our strategy of clear messaging, timely engagement with artists, management and blue carpet host Peter Andre and extensive liaison with national and international media resulted in a 70% increase in pieces of coverage and a 150% increase in OTS, compared to the most recent event in 2019.

  • Broadcast coverage including news item on BBC Radio 2, Tom Walker interview on Good Morning Britain, various artists featured on ITV’s FYI Daily and Virgin Radio, and Sandra Schembri interviewed on ITV London and LBC with an extensive profile on BBC Radio London
  • National print coverage including Evening Standard, The I Paper, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Sun on Sunday, The Star and Hello. We secured a feature length inteview with Sandra in The Sunday Express
  • Online national coverage including The Sun, Evening Standard, Yahoo UK, AOL and MSN
  • Multiple regional print and online coverage from PA syndication for all three announcements
  • International coverage ranging from US, Canada to Brazil, Mexico and Europe.


items of coverage



opportunities to see/hear



increase in items of coverage



increase in opportunities to see/hear




raised for Nordoff Robbins’ music therapy